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A 70 per cent increase in local flu cases this winter has prompted an appeal for sufferers to stay away from the ill and elderly.
The spike in flu patients at Geelong’s public hospital compared to this time last year indicated a “bigger than average season for flu and respiratory viruses” ahead, Barwon Health warned.
The peak of the season was likely to arrive in the next four weeks, said Barwon Health’s infection prevention service manager, Paul Simpson.
He urged flu victims to observe “basic methods of reducing the spread of viruses”, particularly to people whose health was already fragile.
“If you have the flu or gastro-like symptoms, it would be sensible to avoid visiting the hospital or elderly people,” Mr Simpson said.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in respiratory illnesses in general. There are early signs of a larger than normal flu season but there is still time for the vaccination and we encourage people to see their GP about protecting themselves against influenza.”
The flu vaccine’s short-lived immune response of six to 12 months meant annual vaccinations were necessary, Mr Simpson said.
He urged anyone with flu-like symptoms to consult their GP and attend hospital only in an emergency.

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